Two dissident republicans jailed for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll have been denied permission to go before the UK’s highest court in a bid to clear their names.
Judges at the Supreme Court in London refused to hear an appeal by Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton.
They ruled that the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance.
McConville and Wootton are serving life sentences after being jointly convicted of the Continuity IRA murder.
Constable Carroll, from Banbridge, was the first member of the PSNI to be killed. He was shot dead as he responded to a 999 call at Lismore Manor, Craigavon in March 2009.
McConville, 44, of Glenholme Avenue in the town, and Wootton, 24, from Lurgan, were also convicted of possession of an AK47 assault rifle and ammunition with intent to endanger life.
Last year Wootton’s minimum jail term was increased from 14 to 18 years after the Court of Appeal ruled it was unduly lenient. McConville is to serve at least 25 years behind bars for his part in the assassination.
A circumstantial case against the pair at the non-jury trial involved DNA and other evidence. Wootton’s car was held to have been near the scene of the attack and driven off within minutes of the killing.
Gun residue was found on a coat linked to McConville which was later recovered from the vehicle.
In May last year both men failed in attempts to have their murder convictions overturned. But their lawyers then returned to the Court of Appeal seeking permission to take their case to the Supreme Court.
Although a panel chaired by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan refused leave, they did agree to certify a legal question for consideration. The issue was whether, where the prosecution evidence is insufficient to establish a specified role in a crime and there is no direct evidence of agreement to commit the crime, adverse inferences can be drawn from a failure to give evidence in reaching a conclusion of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. A second point related to setting the tariff for a then child convicted of murder as a secondary party.
It was contended that Wootton’s sentence should not be increased based on aggravating factors to a level appropriate for an adult.
It was confirmed however, that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the challenge – meaning the Court of Appeal judgment stands.